Man’s Law Vs. God’s Law

One of the topics I disagree with my right leaning Christian brethren on when it comes to political matters is the role of morality when it comes to making laws. The older I get the more libertarian I get (if I understand the way they approach laws). We shouldn’t need the government to make rules about every little thing. Sadly, we make them anyway. In the making of them we are informed by our various moral beliefs. That’s something that’s probably unavoidable, even if we did want to avoid them.

Conservatively political Christians, it seems to me, want the laws of our land to reflect the Biblical codes. This is problematic for a number of reasons. First, you have to decide which Biblical laws should apply to our current society. The law that many of them wish to enact is making abortion illegal across the board. Life is sacred and it begins at conception (a view that’s apparently new to the evangelical community it seems). The problem is, that isn’t a biblical law per se. I don’t recall anything in the Bible saying that you shouldn’t abort your child. Now there is a payment that you would have to make if a child were killed in its mother’s womb in an act of violence. There are also a whole host of cases in which God commanded babies and pregnant women to be killed. But, they say, life is sacred and the taking of life, especially an innocent life, is immoral. Let’s accept that as a given for the moment.

As I have often said, if you want to make abortion illegal because it’s not biblically moral, then you have to wonder about making it legal to say, stone our children. That’s perfectly moral in the society of the Old Testament. As one of those Conservative Christians pointed out, we don’t live in Old Testament times and aren’t subject to their laws, so the stoning thing is off the table. The argument, it would seem, is more about reflecting God’s character in our laws than about any specific law. I suppose that’s an okay argument. The God I believe in loves the world and everyone in it. So I think that our law should reflect that. I think if you love someone then the law should allow you to marry that person. Because marriage is a contract that relationship should be entered into only by those able to legally enter into contracts, but otherwise we should stay out of it. But that means homosexuals can marry and that’s against the Bible!

Well let’s look at marriages in the Bible. We have a whole host of interesting marriages. We’ve got people marrying their relatives. We have numerous polygamist marriages. Then there’s that whole notion of woman as chattel. I’m pretty sure there are instances where people of what would now be considered unmarriageable ages get hitched. How old was Mary? Of course most of that is in the Old Testament. Paul is pretty anti-marriage. He seems to think that it’s better if we all just do what he did, stay single and spread the Gospel. If that proves too much for our heated loins to handle, then we should get married. So don’t get married for love’s sake, get married for appropriate sexual release. Jesus, so far as we know, didn’t get married. The apostles left any relationships they had and went on the road. I won’t say that there aren’t plenty of good words in the New Testament about marriage that I apply to my own. There are. Thing is, marriage as it’s displayed in the Bible is at best an argument for how believers are supposed to act when they’re in union. Treat each other with respect. Love sacrificially. If you can’t handle more than one wife, don’t marry more than one woman. None of that can really be legislated though. So why should we get so caught up in codifying modern marriages after a set of ancient traditions that most people now would find untenable? If you believe that the Bible has the perfect blueprint for marriage then by all means, live it!

If you want to use the ten commandments as the basis for modern law (as some would argue that we already do) that seems to be harmless enough. I mean it’s got don’t kill, don’t lie, don’t steal. Those are all excellent things not to do. We can most of us agree that making laws around that is okay. Then it begins to become problematic. Should we still have blue laws where business aren’t allowed to operate on a Saturday/Sunday (depending on how you feel about the Sabbath and where it falls)? Or should that be left to individuals? Should we let that Indian restaurant down the block have their little shrine to Ganesha? Or should that be illegal? Should it be illegal to disrespect your Mom and Dad? I don’t think we can codify those things.

Jesus said that all of the law and prophets boil down to two things: love your God and love your neighbor. I can totally get behind that. What I can’t abide is making laws requiring us to do either. Those are things that need to be left up to the individual. You can’t build that into law, except for maybe the last one and only then in the crudest/broadest strokes. You can provide for and protect your neighbor and those sentiments certainly have their place in our legal system. It isn’t unique to Christianity though. People of all backgrounds and traditions have come together to figure out how to make that happen and we’re still trying. That’s what a democracy is.

So, I’ve said my piece for now. What place do you think God’s law has in our modern day legal system? Any? A lot? None? Sound off!

  • http://kansasbob.com Kansas Bob

    I chuckle when people tell me about how our nation was founded on some sort of Judeo-Christian morality. Like Christianity is about following rules. The founders (I dislike that term but can’t think of a better one) did seem to embrace some sort of religious morality and codified them somewhat into laws. Even so, I doubt that they could have ever imagined the quagmire of law that we have today. My thinking is that a lot of the legality deals with the tax code and other regulatory minutiae that seems to favor those who can afford high-priced attorneys. It is probably naive to think that any of it will ever get simpler. Sigh.

  • http://www.salguod.net salguod

    I had to look up chattel. :-P

    The thing about the Bible is that it is at least as much a story book as it is a law book, actually more.  So you’ve got men of God in positions of authority doing all kinds of questionable things.  Folks who look for examples of things to justify or condemn this action or that are on shaky ground already.

    Regarding marriage, one can certainly say that the Bible only shows us marriages as man and woman.  No same sex marriages.  It does tie sex to marriage unequivocally and it does speak pretty plainly against homosexuality.  I think you can make a pretty strong, if not air tight, argument against same sex marriage from the Bible.  

    Applying that to the law of the country is another matter.  Just because you believe that the Bible prescribes something doesn’t mean it’s right for the law.

    Abortion is another matter.  “Thou shall not kill.” is a pretty strong statement against allowing abortion.  It really comes down to if it’s a baby or not.  I find it funny that folks will mourn when a woman looses a baby but defend her right to throw it away. They support laws that punish the person who causes an accident that ends in a miscarriage, but don’t care if the woman does it herself.  If a dramatically premature baby makes it it’s a miracle, but if Mom had decided she didn’t want it the day before, she could have killed it then without consequence.Id a teen mother gives birth at home and leaves the baby in the trash we prosecute, but has she aborted we say nothing.

    The idea that it’s not a baby until we can see it is ridiculous as is the idea that it shouldn’t be legally protected.  Standing up for the helpless and those with no voice is absolutely a Christian principal and that’s what standing against abortion is to me.  The vast majority of abortions are done because the baby isn’t wanted, so we throw it away.  Men and women want to pursue their pleasure without consequence and millions of babies pay the price every year.  It’s evil, pure and simple, as far as I’m concerned, and yes, that is a strong statement.

    • spiritualtramp

      Doug,

      I agree with everything until “abortion is another matter”. You use words like ” don’t care” or ” without consequence”. On the pro choice side I would say there’s plenty of caring and acknowledgment of consequences. And I honestly don’t know many people who say that it isn’t a baby.

      I agree that it’s immoral. The question is, should it always be illegal and if so, why. Bringing the Bible into it isnt helpful if for no other reason than thou shalt not kill is as inconsistently defined as any other commandment. As I said there was plenty of killing at God’s command that involved women and children. It’s one of those things that’s hard for me to defend as a Christian. We have to deal with that.

      • http://www.salguod.net salguod

        Juts getting back to this, sorry it took so long.

        Frankly, if there’s a general acknowledgement that this is a baby, a human life every bit as a newborn or you and I, then it’s all the more disappointing that so many can approve of abortion.  You ask if it should be illegal, when should the taking of a human life not be illegal?  I’d say in very rare ans specific circumstances, mainly when the life of another is in danger.  I cannot come up with another.  That’s why I speak in strong terms, this choice is about whether a child gets a future or not.  While I may get my moral framework and worldview from the Bible, I don’t think you need to to see that abortion should be illegal.I guess I’m painting with a broad brush when I talk about the lack of care or conscience, but I’m not sure how else to think about it.  Yes, there are some cases where parents are genuinely conflicted about bringing a baby into their economic circumstances or the baby has serious health challenges or other deep issues.  I get that, but that doesn’t change that you are talking about ending the life of another human.  My guess is that the majority of abortions, or at least a significant number, are not under those circumstances, but merely that the baby would not be convenient right now and I’ll stop it before it starts.  Except that it has started, it’s alive right now.  I don’t get how anyone can be OK with that.

        I hear what you’re saying about the amount of killing, at God’s direction, in the scriptures.  That’s not easy to defend or explain.  I guess I’m able to separate that from how He commanded us to live. I don’t have to understand, or even condone, God’s actions in the OT to follow his commands for living.  He is God and I am not and I do not have to understand all his reasons, and maybe can’t.  I suppose that you could look at that as a cop out, but I would (obviously) disagree.